Mar 30, 2012

Federal Judge finds Scott Walker's assault on workers unconstitutional

FDR signs the Wagner Act in 1935
Update: Federal Judge Partially Strikes Down Wisconsin Act 10, the Anti-Collective Bargaining Bill - "... in a clear victory for the public-sector unions in Wisconsin, the onerous recertification and anti-dues check off provisions, which again only applied to non-public safety employees, were enjoined on both equal protection and First Amendment grounds. The court found absolutely no connection between the Walker Administration’s purported justifications for treating these two groups of public employees differently and the need for these two punitive provisions."

"The Labor Relations Act now forbids an employer to say to a laborer: 'Give up your union or give up your job,'" said the great jurist, Robert H. Jackson in 1939. "... Are our great constitutional guarantees in danger? The answer really lies with the people themselves. Civil rights are pretty generally safe except in periods of widespread emotional instability. In such times there are always those who, either because they lack balance themselves or because they see an opportunity to exploit the anxiety of others, institute scares and make drives to save the country from exaggerated dangers by suppressing free speech, or censoring free press, or punishing free opinion."

Jackson was U.S. Solicitor General at the time of this national town hall and had the idea that law and politics ought be the sphere of the American public: Open and public, or civil rights will die.

Jackson could have been speaking to Scott Walker, J.B. Van Hollen and the rest of the GOP regime who concocted the law and after law for cynical, partisan purposes, and even admitted so. See videos of State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald and Walker below. Repeatedly, Walker cried crisis and danger, and used fear to ram through an anti-citizen agenda, with Walker supporters harassing Wisconsin volunteers.

“Today’s ruling affirms Governor Walker and Legislative Republicans once again overreached in their attack on public workers’ rights to belong to a union. This is a tremendous victory for public workers and the rule of law. These abuses of power should have no place in our public policy decisions. The court has affirmed these were political decisions in an attempt to bust unions, not sound public policy,” said State Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison).

Scott Walker has a different notion than Justice Jackson on civil rights; mocking and ridiculing them, and bragging about collusion with Attorney General Van Hollen, and using working families' livelihoods as political fodder.

"The other thing is I’ve got layoff notices ready. We put out the at-risk notices. We’ll announce Thursday, and they’ll go out early next week. And we’ll probably get 5 to 6,000 state workers will get at-risk notices for layoffs. We might ratchet that up a little bit, you know," said Walker in his infamous taped phone conversation before ramming through Act 10.

It comes as great comfort that U.S. District Judge William M. Conley rules in Wisconsin Education Association Council et al v. Scott Walker et al (Case: 3:11-cv-00428-wmc; U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin) that Act 10, the so-called Budget Repair Bill, is a violation of union members' First Amendment rights.

"[U]nions engage -- indeed, one of their core functions is to engage -- in speech," writes Justice Conley.

Though the Republican Party thought that it could pick and choose which union members' First Amendment rights to violate, the Court disagreed.

"So long as the State of Wisconsin continues to afford ordinary certification and dues deductions to mandatory public safety unions with sweeping bargaining rights, there is no rational basis to deny those rights to voluntary general unions with severely restricted bargaining rights," writes Judge Conley.

"Wisconsin citizens have long known Gov. Walker's attack on workers was not honest and today's court ruling shows his attack was not legal," said a statement from former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, a Democrat running against Walker. (Bruce Vielmetti and Patrick Marley. MJS)

GOP leader Fitzgerald expanded on Falk's assessment on Fox News last year, saying busting unions will help the GOP defeat President Obama: "If we win this battle, and the money is not there under the auspices of the unions, certainly what you’re going to find is President Obama is going to have a much difficult, much more difficult time getting elected and winning the state of Wisconsin," said Fitzgerald.

Nothing about saving tax-payers' money; and all about a corrupt brand of politics that has seen Scott Walker's closest aides convicted and facing multiple felonies in a criminal investigation of Walker's campaign while Walker tries to stall the investigation in hopes of surviving the recall election.

Walker's signature assault on civil rights is under countetattack by those dedicated to the rule of law, and his legal and political malfeasance is only just beginning to be revealed some 14 months into office.

From Wisconsin State AFL-CIO

“Gov. Walker’s extreme attacks on public sector workers has, in part, been reversed by the court of law today and found in violation of the U.S. constitution,” explained Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “This proves that Gov. Walker rammed through his radical and secret agenda without regard to the U.S. constitution, the rule of law, or to what is right and fair for Wisconsin families. There is still much to be done to reverse the harm that Gov. Walker has done to nurses, teachers, snow plow drivers and other public workers. The fight to fully restore public employee’s voices on the job and a strong middle class for Wisconsin continues.”

“This is a better day for public sector workers but unfortunately does not fully restore the ability of public employees to have a meaningful voice in the workplace so that they can speak out on behalf of the communities they serve,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “Limiting collective bargaining, as Scott Walker has done, is unjust and un-American. The fight to reclaim Wisconsin and restore the rights of working people to collectively bargain continues.”

While this is a step in the right direction, there is still much work to be done to ensure that all working families have the right to collectively bargain. We must stand together until justice is restored to all Wisconsin workers.

In Solidarity,


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